About Brown Safe

Press Articles - North County Times

by Christine Davis

In the world of home safes, quality counts
A car parked in the driveway, motion-sensitive exterior lighting and an alarm system can help deter burglary.  But how safe are your valuables if a burglar does get inside you home?
  A residential safe or vault can help ensure that small valuables don’t come up missing.
  If you’re like most people, you leave watches and pocket cash on your night stand and jewelry in the top drawer of your bedroom chest next to your passport.  If you have a home office, the company checkbook is probably on the desk in plain view.
  “Residential safes are more common than you might think,” said Lynel Berryhill, vice president of Brown Safe Manufacturing in San Marcos.  “If they are convenient for the homeowner to use, they will be used.”
  Safes come in all sizes, colors, and levels of protection.  For a homeowner who wants to quickly store pocket cash, a wallet or a piece of jewelry after an evening out, a wall safe might be sufficient for the job.
However, for a homeowner who wants to protect a considerable jewelry collection, a custom jewelry safe designed specifically to store necklaces, earrings and other valuable pieces might be more appropriate.  “Everything we build and install is focused around convenience,” Berryhill said.  “We also suggest a high quality safe that doesn’t need to be hidden. 
If a safe is so well hidden that it’s not used, it’s defeating the purpose.”  Mike Oehlert, technical adviser and education manager for the Safe and Vault Technician Association, said that most homeowners put there safes in the master bedroom closet. 
“I always caution people to do their homework and research safes before buying one,” Oehlert said.  “And I mean really do your homework.  Be careful, and do your research on construction and ratings.  Don’t just be sold by a salesman who tells you that because it’s big, it’s the best.
Make sure it’s installed properly, bolted to the floor and in a place where you can access it.”  Oehlert said size alone doesn’t make a safe harder to break into and doesn’t make it a better product. 
“It’s important to buy the type of container that suits your needs and concentrate on quality over size,” Oehlert said.  “It’s a shame to hear the stories of a homeowner who buys a safe and puts a little home kitty of $10,000 away only to come home after a weekend away to find it beat open with a sledge hammer.” 
Wall safes, floor safes, jewelry safes and gun safes are all rated.  Some of the ratings a consumer should look for include a fire endurance test, a fire and impact test and an explosion hazard test. 
Each product is rated for each of the tests it passes.  Ratings – such as B, C and E – relate to the door and body thickness and construction.  For example, a B-rated safe can have a door less than one inch thick and a body constructed of less than half inch of steel whereas an E-rated safe must have a door of no less than 1½” of thickness with a 1” thick body construction. 
“Stores like Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Lowes, and even Costco sell safes for homes,” Berryhill said.  “What a homeowner needs to know is they might be made of steel composite and can be broken into with a crowbar in a matter of minutes. 
Homeowners need to be educated before making their purchase.”  Berryhill said homeowners may think they are protecting their valuables but all they are doing is organizing them for easy access.  “
At a minimum, a safe should be made of solid steel construction with stainless steel locking bolts and should be bolted to the floor,” Berryhill said. 
”You can then add an electronic lock, custom internal cabinetry and even GPS if you want, but at least you will be assured that you have a quality safe in your home.” 
Adding fire protection to any safe increases the cost by about one third and doubles the weight.  Fire protection is a popular option. 
Fire-resistant safes are rated according to how much heat they can stand over time.  Some are rated to withstand temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit. 
While protection is a safe’s No. 1 priority, convenience and aesthetics play a part in design and installation, Berryhill said.  “All new safes have electronic pads on front that allow you to set and reset the combination without the help of a locksmith,” Berryhill said. 
Fumbling with a combination lock just isn’t convenient at the end of a night when you just want to store your jewelry before going to bed.  And safes are now very attractive and can be customized inside and out.” 
Electronic locks may have a panic code to be sent directly to the homeowner’s alarm company.  Berryhill said that fingertip identification, a convenient, but expensive option is used roughly 10 percent to 20 percent of her clients.

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